Monday, November 17, 2014

Orlando layover = Sarasota Medieval Faire Adventure!

It's not a sewing project or fabric shopping but I got to have a super awesome day at the Sarasota Medieval Faire and you should all know about it!

I worked an allnighter flight from Seattle to Orlando Friday morning, rented a car and drove down to Sarasota, about 2 hours away. I had no idea I would be doing this so of course I had no fairewear with me. My costume for the day was typical patron- black workout capris, grey scoop neck short sleeve shirt, and nikes. With sunglasses! It was weird, but a treat.

Never been to this Faire or heard much about it so I had no idea what to expect, especially as I drove toward the parking area which seemed to be right in the middle of the city. But as soon as I got inside the gate the only sign of the 21st century seemed to be my own attire and iPhone use. Big beautiful shady trees, grass and dirt paths, and festive stages and shops were all around.

Alright, but how would the entertainment be at this smaller 3 weekend faire?

Well this is what greeted me inside...

Nothing like a drumming and piping group that I've not yet heard of but would soon get to know very happily!

A trip to the pub followed very shortly and I equipped myself with some quite delicious cranberry mead!

I took a good lap around the site to get a lay of the land and see what kind of shopping was available. The layout makes good use of the space, with enough turns and lanes to make it feel bigger than it really is but not  so much that one gets lost. I didn't do any shopping personally but I saw a good mix of artisans.

I caught a show very astutely titled "Danger Comedy Juggling and Whip Show". It was very funny! I believe the performer's name is Aaron Bonk.

I started to get a sense of this faire's audience and they were a great crowd! Engaged, happy, ready to laugh and applaud and be entertained.

Let me note that as the day continued I made it back to every Cu Dubh show to get my bagpipe bootyshaking on (curse my lack of skirts!)
(yes I'm dancing, hence the bad filming)

I missed the opening gate performance by the local cast but did make it to the first human chess match. The story seemed to revolve around the German King Otto, our host, and what I couldn't tell if the opposers were French or just a barbarian tribe of rivals.

The Washing Well Wenches were not to be missed and Izzy and Gertie absolutely delivered!

The joust I only caught part of, but claimed to be and seemed to indeed be "full contact". Definitely was cool to hear and 'feel' the solid hits but there also seemed to be a lot of down time between passes (only two knights jousted) and some musical fanfare accompaniment would've helped some of the impact and to bring up the quiet moments in between.

(tried to get a selfie with one of the knights but he was distracted whispering things to me)

The day finished with a pub sing/ jam session with Cu Dubh. They played us all out the front gates and I think we were all sorry to go!

All in all it was an amazing and spontaneous day even if it meant I only got a 2 hour nap once I got back to my hotel before getting up to work a 10.5 hour day... But hey, everyone needs to go 52 hours without sleep every once in a while if it means making it worth it!

Friday, November 14, 2014


As I should've expected, the train of great progress got a bit derailed.

Everything was going according to plan but then a part of the plan (i.e. the method of appliquéing some leather on some silk) didn't give me the look I wanted and I couldn't find a alternative method right away so I threw my hands up disgusted and decided to come back to it another day.

And then before that 'another day' came I found out I had to find a new apartment/roommate and move soon. So now I'm messed up in packing and moving which is going to prevent any more progress until December.

...for which I'm very sorry to you, my followers, because I'm already giving you just slivers of updates. SORRY SORRY SORRY!!!

And if you're new to finding or hearing about this blog, welcome! If you found this because your director shared a link about a dress for sale, that dress is still available! Please email me for details at

So thanks for checking in, and I'll do my best to get back on the wagon and updating once I'm settled into my new place!

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Peter Teaser 2

As predicted... unprecedented progress! 

The trunk hose are nearly ready for a final fitting, the doublet is a breath away from being assembled for a final fitting. Sleeves? I'm calmly ignoring the sleeves altogether at the moment. The yummy extra piece is ready to undertake the most laborious and finicky part of the entire design. 

Here are some vague teaser snapshots...


Friday, October 3, 2014

New Project Teaser

As promised I WILL... do my best to document my current and upcoming projects.

However, a lot of my work is done for performers at various renaissance faires. Part of the magic and excitement for our patrons (and fellow performers) come opening day is seeing the new costumes and the beauty of the show all put together. Out of respect and support of that magic, I will not be posting photographic updates of those costumes. Instead I will collect photos of the progress and put together a project review and debut AFTER the openings of said faires.

Sorrrrrrrry. I know it's kind of a bummer and means the blog posts will be a bit thin until the season officially starts but I will try to tantalize you, my readers, with written updates and a very few teaser pics.

So to start us off, my charming brother makes another appearance in my client roster with a little design we've been working on for a while now.

So there's a teaser shot of the sketch. 

It's going to be really hard not to share this one with you because it's going to come together pretty quickly. I found a local calico store that has a sewing lounge/classroom they let folks use to work in when classes aren't going on. It is BEYOND amazing how much work I can get done there in just a few short hours compared to trying to work at home. Coffee table vs. sewing table. Kitties trying to play with everything vs. no kitties. Easily accessible kitchen vs. no kitchen. Yeah this place is great. No distractions. I think just a few more 4-5 hour days there will see this project nearly done. 

Another project is totally Top Secret. No more will be said about this until clandestine status has been lifted. 

Another project is done but does not have a proper owner yet so I will post more about that one after it finds it's new home. 

So I'll let you know when I have more to safely share...

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Can't Stay Away Forever

...From the blog OR the 'Bethan work.

I didn't get around to much more Regency work but I was drawn back to my Elizabethan projects sooner than I expected.

In January I found out a new Bristol St. George cast member was cast as Mary Radclyffe so any visits I made would obviously not be as Radclyffe. I was surprised and a little sad, having put so much of myself into my Radclyffe, but I embraced the change as an opportunity for new growth. My "Grey-clyffe" dress had by now seen almost 4 years of use and was beginning to tell. She cameoed as other characters at other faires, but she would always be Bristol Radclyffe to me so kicked my butt into gear to finish a dress I started years ago.

Goodbye, Grey-clyffe!
photo by Duchess W Cortland-Canon

Unfortunately I was still in an I-don't-want-to-do-this-all-again mood regarding sewing and faire costuming so I was rather hermit-like about the process. I took very few photos, consulted no one, and obviously didn't post any blog updates. I also gave myself the smallest window for construction I ever risked. Work on it in earnest didn't begin until February and my goal was opening weekend for RPF ( April 5th&6th. 

I mention I had started this dress but all that had been done was the seaming of the skirt panels and laying the silk piping/silk velvet trim on the skirt. At some point I also put the pearls on the trim. So maybe about 10 hours worth of work had been done. Otherwise I put together Overskirt, Bodice, Underskirt with embroidered/beaded forepart section, sleeves, Attifet, new chemise, Ruff partlet, and wrist ruffs all in about 2 months. 

Enough talking about it. Here it is! 

As Douglas Howard, Baroness Sheffield at RPF
(with Sarah Dufresne as Bess Throckmorton and Clayton Hamburg as Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester)
photo by Ken Leonard

As Mary Radclyffe for the day at WMRF 
(with Christopher Forest as Edward deVere, Earl of Oxford -suit by myself)
photo by Richard Doyle

As Penelope Devereaux, Baroness Rich at BRF
photo by Nicole Dh

Feel free to shoot me any questions about details or construction as I neglected documenting the process. 

Now that I'm back up and posting I should be following up with more soon. I PROMISE! 

Special thanks to the following:
Terri Casey- for welcoming me as always with your great cast at RPF
Marybeth Townsend- for making me feel loved and never-forgotton
Victoria Dzenis- for welcoming me to your cast at WMRF for a fun-filled day
Christopher Forest- for your assistance, input, inspiration, your large table; letting me bully you; and for looking great in my work

Monday, October 28, 2013

Adventures in Regency: Part One- Unmentionables!

I think I can count the number of non-Elizabethan projects I've undertaken since creating this blog on one finger. For such a long time my costuming has been so driven by the Faire-purpose and the passion for that era that I could think of making little else. I'm sorry to say that this year something in me--not so much "snapped", but frayed out, rather. As I took on more and more projects for clients and I pushed myself to meet deadlines and create unique hopeful-showstoppers for elite and stellar performers I burned myself out.
For many months now I've been loath to even go near my fabric or workspace. While I told myself this will wear off and by next spring I'll be eager to sew again, a large part of me kinda hoped it wouldn't. Never having been fond of making day-to-day clothes or halloween costumes or other sewing crafts I started to wonder if this loss of my one main passion would deter me from stirring needle and thread again. I was almost resigned to never find out.
And then I was inspired. But not the kind of inspiration that entraps you and enslaves you to a project that gives you sleepless nights fretting over but rather the kind of inspiration that frees you. The kind of inspiration that returns you to the simplest pleasure that's at the heart of why you began this hobby in the first place. "That's pretty. I should like to create something like that and feel what it's like to wear something pretty like that." This phrase is what started me down this road nearly 10 years ago watching the beautiful Guilde of St. George at Bristol parade by. And lo, in the pit of my dispassion, it came to me again. Watching the BBC/A&E Pride & Prejudice for the 100th time I felt that inspiring, politely compelling desire to create and experience those clothes.
With no event looming, no performance to cater, no expectations (my own or others) to meet I'm just going to enjoy my way through some regency era garment-making. If this is the first, last, and only post  I make on the subject, I will bear no disappointment. One of the most profound and ofttimes heartbreaking axioms I have come across in the world of these hobbies is "If you don't enjoy it anymore, it's time to stop." I don't believe that time has come entirely but I can't fight it if it does.

So with no more ado, the palate cleanser of my costuming ennui beginning with UNMENTIONABLES!!!
I have now made a shift/chemise and Regency era "short stays"

 Front view of chemise with short stays over. Chemise comes to just below knee length.

 Back view

Angle showing the "shelf" effect the stays create

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Gresham's Dutch Coat

And also a long time coming and seen in action; here is Sir Thomas Gresham's Dutch Coat!
Photo by Ivan Phillips